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Super League set to return to winter season if purchased by NRL

Matty Johns, a legendary NRL player, has recently commented on rumours that he has heard about the NRL being interested in purchasing Super League.

Johns, who is the brother of fellow NRL star Joey, claimed that he has heard “strengthening” rumours that the NRL is considering buying out Super League.

Speaking on SEN League, Johns said: “The rumour I’m hearing, and one that’s getting stronger, is that the NRL are seriously looking to possibly buy the English Rugby League.”

It would be an absolutely monumental deal for the NRL to take ownership of Super League but it could have immeasurable benefits, not least a wider player pool because Johns claimed it should see England revert back to being a winter sport.

Summer rugby league wasn’t a thing forty years ago, it is one of the major elements of our game that Super League helped to shape but Johns has suggested a return to winter rugby would be required for a deal to happen.

“They should move it back in England to being a winter sport,” Johns argued.

“That way, it broadens the base and adds to the depth of both competitions. Players can go over and have guest stints and things like that.

“One of the things that really helped the game over there was guys like Peter Sterling, Brett Kenny, Phil Blake, going and having those short stints with Wigan, Leeds, Castleford, and whatnot, they really miss that over there.”

NRL great argues that Super League buyout would allow star players their “NRL fix”

Matty Johns was on the SEN League broadcast with fellow former NRL player Bryan Fletcher who didn’t seem to believe that the deal would work, even if English rugby league did return to being a winter sport.

Fletcher argued: “I can’t see a club letting a gun go over. I think it would be too dangerous for them.”

It would be highly unlikely for the likes of Nathan Cleary or Kalyn Ponga to make the switch over but one thing that it could help with is the development of talent, particularly young Australians which is maybe why Johns was so keen.

He used the example of Jack Cole at Penrith Panthers who currently sits behind Nathan Cleary and Jahrome Luai, stating that Cole could head over to Super League to learn the trade in a similar way to how Jackson Hastings reshaped his career in England.

Johns also spoke on the financial benefits for players, adding: “It’s an opportunity for players to really optimise their income while they’re in the game,” whilst then suggesting a way in which it would benefit English talent.

Johns explained: “It helps the English game twofold in the fact that Wigan, etc, send their players here to have guest stints, whether it’s half a season or four or five games.

“The other thing why it helps them is that guys like Jack Welsby can get their NRL fix, come out and prove themselves, but still be part of the English competition, as opposed to having to make the complete change.”

It would likely mean that talents like Welsby aren’t lost to the English game as we have seen with the likes of Morgan Smithies, Kai Pearce-Paul and Will Pryce this off-season.

However, much of the player development would likely be for young Australians like Jack Cole, who is expected to start for Penrith in the absence of Luai this weekend against Wigan, as opposed to English clubs promoting English talent.

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